For many, listening to music is a way to unwind and relax; for others, it’s a way to feel engaged and inspired. But whatever the purpose, if you listen to music regularly, it’s important to be aware of how it might be affecting your hearing health. Loud music can permanently harm your capacity to listen. But how does this happen, and what are the common symptoms?

Noise Exposure

People commonly gain noise-induced hearing loss from listening to sounds, such as loud music, that are above a level that is safe. This occurs when the small hair cells in your ear, which are used to detect sound, become permanently damaged, and stop functioning correctly. This can take place when a person witnesses a single instance of very loud sound or over several years of consistent exposure. So if you are a drummer and forget your ear protection, you could cause permanent damage during a single session. But also, if you go to live concerts each weekend, this could cause gradual harm over many years.

What Are The Symptoms?

An obvious symptom of this is when you feel your hearing is muffled, as though obscured by a cotton ball, after listening to music. If this doesn’t return to normal within a week or two, it may be that a reduction in your hearing capacity has become permanent. This normally affects how you hear higher frequencies, such as young people’s voices, due to how these sounds enter your ear. So while you may be aware that someone’s talking, it might be hard to pick out their words and phrases. If you listen to music through headphones, regularly attend live events, or are a musician and experience this issue, then it’s important to see an audiologist as soon as possible.

What’s The Best Advice?

It seems simple, but if you’re worried about hearing loss, the best advice is to turn your music down below a level that’s dangerous, usually 85 decibels. Many smartphones allow users to go well above this, so it’s important to find out what volume you’re normally listening to music. For others, another good option is to invest in noise-canceling headphones. These block out background sounds, so you don’t feel the need to turn music up above a level that’s harmful. Musicians should use in-ear monitors, which can protect their ears while allowing them to hear sounds, while they play and practice. They’ll benefit from standard over-the-counter versions, but the best styles are those that can be custom-fitted to someone’s ear. For concertgoers, ear protection is essential. Foam earplugs are inexpensive tools for stopping harmful damage to your hearing.

What If I’m Concerned?

If you are someone who regularly listens to loud music and is worried about the state of your hearing, it’s important to book an appointment with an audiologist sooner rather than later. The doctors at Cornerstone Audiology can offer full hearing evaluations, which accurately diagnose whether someone has a hearing condition. Once completed, they can prescribe life-changing treatments and advise patients on how to manage their hearing, so it remains at its best well into the future. Are you a musician or music fan worried about your hearing? Request a callback with a member of the Cornerstone Audiology team now, so you can get peace of mind today!

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Dr. Deanna Wann, Au.D., CCC-A Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Deanna Wann, Au.D., CCC-A Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Deanna Wann received her bachelor’s degree in speech-language and hearing sciences and her doctorate in audiology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). She is a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). While in graduate school, Dr. Wann participated in the TTUHSC Medical Missions Team with the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine students to provide hearing screenings as part of a health screening in Nicaraguan villages and special needs schools.